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Ocean Finance fined £130,000 for unsolicited text messages

 Article added: 29/09/2016

This is a very common problem in the marketing industry.

Ocean Finance organised with a company to send text messages that it thought were ok to send, because its supplier said so, and ended up with a £130,000 fine from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Ocean Finance

What Ocean Finance didn’t realise, neither do many other companies both small and large, is that if you send texts, emails or automated voice messages your business is responsible for the sending regardless of whether you use your own data or data supplied by a third party.

Company bosses are being urged by the ICO to get their acts together and ensure their marketing practices comply with the law.

Intelligent Lending Ltd, trading as Ocean Finance, sent more than seven million texts offering a new credit card powered by a major lender. This may sound like a lot of texts, but to anyone involved in broadcasting it simply isn’t.

Manchester-based Ocean Finance believed it was complying with the law because the third party firm it obtained names and phone numbers from claimed it had people’s consent to send texts.

Richard Kane, TPS Services, said:

It’s a common problem. Companies are simply too relaxed about the promises made by third parties and don’t undertake their own due diligence checks. In fairness though, the market is a changing place. The way the ICO is fining people now has changed albeit that the law hasn’t changed. So companies are now facing a change of stance as it were and it’s catching them off guard.
Ocean Finance Monetary Penalty Notice as issued by the ICO
One thing is clear though, howsoever the Information Commissioners Office are getting the message out, is simply not working so you can expect more confused companies to be getting fined in time to come.

The ICO investigation found that the consent relied upon by Ocean Finance was insufficient to meet the requirements of the law.

Steve Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, said:

Company bosses everywhere should sit up and take note of this fine and check their practices are compliant with the law before embarking on marketing campaigns.
It’s your responsibility to make rigorous checks to ensure personal data has been obtained fairly and lawfully. It’s not enough to rely on the word of a third party.

He added:

We have made it easier for people to report organisations responsible for unlawful marketing practices and they have in their thousands.

Vince Costa-Barnett, TPS Services, said:

What many companies simply don’t get is that they read articles about texting and think it doesn’t apply to them because they only email, but it’s exactly the same situation!
Ocean Finance Enforcement Notice as issued by the ICO

As well as a £130,000 fine, the ICO has issued Intelligent Lending Ltd with an enforcement notice ordering it to stop sending spam texts.

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